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Discussion: (8 comments)

  1. Michael P. Stein

    The comparison at the top is intellectually dishonest (but this is by torture apologist Marc Thiessen, so why should we be be surprised). The Obama administration is considering a response to a current situation to prevent a repetition. Bush was not. Hussein’s use of chemical weapons against his own people predated not only his administration, but even his father’s administration. While Bush’s claimed reason for invading was possession of chemical weapons, it was based on a combination of faulty intelligence and an unwillingness to believe anything that contradicted that faulty intelligence.

  2. Michael, you’re clearly missing the larger point. Both Kerry and Obama ran AGAINST the type of action they’re now apparently planning to engage in. President Obama wouldn’t be considering bombing Syria if he’d just kept his mouth shut and never mentioned a red line in the first place. Not to mention the hypocrisy of Obama and Biden when it comes to the need for Congressional approval.

    1. Michael P. Stein

      There are many principles that are not absolute. The Constitution requires a search warrant for police to enter private property uninvited. However, there is an exception in exigent circumstances, where there is reasonable belief that lives are in imminent danger if they wait for a search warrant. You and Mr. Thiessen apparently believe that if anyone ever criticizes police for violating the Fourth Amendment in non-exigent circumstances, they are hypocritical if they permit it in exigent circumstances.

      In other words: context matters.

      Note that none of this has any bearing on whether military action, unilateral or not, is likely to achieve the desired goal, or is in the best interest of the United States. You might also argue that the circumstances are not as exigent as the administration claims. Those are separate questions worthy of debate. I’m just pointing out that Mr. Thiessen can only bring the hypocrisy charge by ignoring context, and claiming that Obama and Kerry intended to establish multilateralism as an absolute principle not subject to any exceptions, even when active murder is going on. It is not at all clear to me that he did.

  3. 9/11 was the context. What is the context now?
    Seems like the same one when Muslims in Darfur were slaughtering Christians and black Africans during the Clinton days.
    Yes, context does matter. If both parties vehemently hate the US, and savages are gassing barbarians…why should we care. That is who/and what our context is now.
    Great intellectual point, but take a stand man!

    1. The problem is that 9/11 was used as justification for attacking a country that had nothing to do with it. And no matter how we dance around the issues there is no context to justify a military attack against Syria without launching attacks against many other countries, including a number of allies.

  4. Michael, thanks for putting your point about hypocrisy in context.

    Your point that many principles–not all principles, of course, I agree (depending on context)–are not absolute, well, what more can one add? And I appreciate your drawing our attention to the fact that while, sure, Bashar has just plain murdered some share of the estimated 100,000 dead, he has *actively* murdered some few thousand with chemical weapons. Obviously, in context, the latter cannot be tolerated. We, at least, are not savages.

    And readers certainly should not be mislead by the acontextual remarks of a torture apologist. (Though I confess, Michael, just between us, in this context, I’m not sure that “torture apologist” is relevant. It *is* a first-rate put-down though!).

    Finally, Michael, I want to say I empathize: I like totally understand why it’s not at all clear. I mean anything. Or everything. You know? It’s so confusing, out of context.

    We can argue about other worthy things later.

    1. Michael P. Stein

      @WEC – You do raise a very good point, something that has long troubled me about the world’s hypocrisy. Either murdering your own people is a crime against humanity or it isn’t; they aren’t any more dead because poison gas was used instead of bullets. I ran across this recently, which touches on that point (with an answer), as well as others relevant to this discussion:

      “Torture apologist” actually is relevant because of the amazing doublethink that Thiessen needs to go through to justify his refusal to call it what it is. See my comment at:

      Another example of Thiessen’s doublethink:

      Thiessen calling someone hypocritical is itself hypocritical.

  5. Ruth Breit

    Another idiotic piece by Marc Thiessen. Since this piece is dead wrong, Thiessen is now bashing Obama for getting the congressional support.

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